FOX TV YAKKER Bill O’Reilly was a sad old man on election night. “The white establishment is now the minority,” he keened, adding, with a tremulous moan: “It’s not a traditional America anymore.”
Yeah, old white guys just don’t have any power these days. Unless you count Wall Street, the corporate boardrooms, Forbes’ list of 400 richest Americans, nearly all legislative bodies, most courts, Republican National Convention delegates, university trustees, big foundations, the church hierarchy–or, for that matter, Fox TV.
Still, it’s true that the make-up of the body politick is rapidly moving away from O’Reilly look-alikes–and away from the Republican Party itself, with its crotchety “get-off-my-lawn” politics of plutocracy, xenophobia, abortion extremism, (Hello, Todd Akin), disdain for the working class, and nostalgia for 1950s white-bread culture. The Latino/Latina vote, for example, is surging, not only in the Southwest, but also in such swing southern states as Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia. Obama won 71 percent of this rising constituency’s ballots, assuring his victory both in the popular vote and the electoral college.
Women, too, are producing a tectonic shift in the political balance. More women than men now vote–55 percent of them cast ballots for Obama this year, with Romney drawing only 43 percent. By similar margins, the women’s vote also went to progressive candidates in various congressional races. They are largely the reason that the US Senate, long an exclusive fiefdom of white males, will have 20 female senators next year. Yes, that’s still only one-fifth of the seats for the majority gender in our country, but you can count on many more to come (check out New Hampshire: Its governor, both of its senators, and both its House members are female).
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One of the new senators will certainly make O’Reilly have the heebie-jeebies. Mazie Hirono will be Hawaii’s first female in the senate, but she’s also Asian, an immigrant, and a Buddhist. When she mentioned this proud biography at a political gathering back home, a constituent playfully asked: “Yes, but are you gay?” Hirono answered, “Nobody’s perfect.” Bill would wet his pants if he heard that.